Friday, March 20, 2015


We get to work with some amazing people. As educators we tend to plant our feet in a particular school and that is where we go each day. Being at the same school for the past seven years, I have had the pleasure to walk the halls with some talented teachers and devoted students for countless hours. The relationships are powerful, impactful and essential to the work we do. 

On occasion, we have the unexpected pleasure to cross paths with a random professional as they fill a role for an absence.

Taking the assignment of working in a building for a few weeks or months as a substitute can be a challenge. Unfamiliar faces, not knowing the climate, learning expectations and understanding the community in a short period of time are just some of the initial hurdles.

The impact of this role will be made by the effort and energy this person puts forth. What we often refer to as the "long-term sub" can be as simple as a "seat-filler" all the way to an educator that makes a lasting impression. The choice will be theirs. Their work ethic, passion and belief system will determine how they are remembered moments after they leave.

For the past six weeks I have had the pleasure work with Christine. Her name passed along from a colleague, she filled the absence of my guidance counselor who fell ill and was required to take time off. 

Today is her last day of her long-term assignment. As I excitedly welcome my guidance counselor back, and am grateful for her return, I reflect on the interaction I have had with this professional. As we were wrapping up the day yesterday, I said to her, "have a nice life". And with that, she moves on. 

As impersonal as this farewell may have sounded, the reality is that I will most likely never see her again. She has found work for next year, family is established in another community and she will meet a new staff in the fall. As in any line of work we grow our roots as we are transplanted. That is life. However, what I have learned from this random interaction, not unlike the others before, has left an impression on my as my role as a leader. Embrace these interactions with others. Learn from the moments in which you have. Recognize and acknowledge the efforts they put forth.

I firmly believe that we each have a purpose in the lives of others. As educators, that is an amazing responsibility. Do not take it lightly and take pride in what you do and how you do it. For me, this was a reminder of the role I play. I am grateful of the randomness of meeting others. There are lessons at every turn.

My message of appreciation:

You have been an awesome addition to our middle school staff these past 6 weeks. It was a pleasure to cross paths with you. You have made a difference.
As I joking stated yesterday, have a nice life. It sounds bizarre to say and odd to just think it, but the reality is we most likely won't cross paths again. Ever. That's just how this crazy world we live in works. People come and go. I believe that there is a reason you were brought to us if even for a short time.
Your professionalism, care for kids, attention to detail and genuine respect for your job are second-to-none.  
With that, be well. Continue to guide kids in the ways you do best. I am inspired by your passion for teaching and learning and moved by your love for children.
Yes, you are that good at what you do. 
With gratitude and respect for your work, 


  1. Craig, I love this post! You must be an incredible leader to work for/with. I learn so much about leading with heart from your posts. Well done.

  2. I echo what you said about Christine! On several occasions over the past weeks I had the opportunity to interact closely with her, bringing needy students to her attention whom she turned right around and LOVED.
    I also appreciate what you had to say about substituting, since I recently spent two years doing that, as I tried to break back into the field of education after an extended absence. Although it was often a tremendous challenge to be in a new setting, with new students, and new and different subject matter every day, I began to see it as a tremendous advantage. Here I was, having the opportunity to see dozens of different classrooms, dozens of different teachers, buildings, and administrators. Talk about a birds eye view! I was getting to interact with students all over Central Ohio, having the opportunity to see how they think and learn, what issues are important to them, and what their hopes and dreams and problems are.

    While taking a detour on the job front can certainly pose its challenges to the career path, it can also be a tremendously positive challenge to the life path! May we never stop looking for the fresh, seeing the lessons in the HARD, and tackling the changes we need to make in ourselves.
    And thanks as always for making me think!

  3. Craig,

    What a great post and reality check for us. This hit home to me as I have had a "long-term sub" in for my secretary for the past two months. Wednesday will be her last day and like your sub, she has really made a positive impact on my students and my school. While I'm eager to have my secretary back, it was nice to have someone friendly and professional in her absence. Thanks again!